As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, June 25, 2015

That's a Wrap

This has been an incredible school year for us.  As has become fairly typical of us, we tend to lay low with social activities and extras until the Spring, then we emerge from the first half of the school and winter ready to take advantage of the many great resources that are available to homeschoolers in our area.  And man, there are a lot!

 Some friends of mine started a homeschool coop a while back consisting of five or six families, and while some families have moved on and new ones have joined us, this group remains our core community (for Moms and kids) and we sure did a lot this year! For the first part of the year we met for noon Mass at a local church, then went down to the church hall where the kids had a gym class (taught by a good friend of ours who generously donated his time and skills to our group) and an art class given by the art teacher at our local Catholic school, who is just fantastic!  In the winter we tapped into some programs at our local museum and library, which was such a great learning experience for our kids, and in the Spring we discovered some free educational outdoor programs offered at a local park, and attended a cooking class.  It was such a busy and full year, one that has left me feeling truly blessed by this group, and the friendships The Lord continues to nurture within it.

In addition to our coop, we are also blessed to be a part of a larger, more formal homeschooling group in our city, and these guys do some amazing things!  We took part in a lot of firsts for our family this year, such as the Regional Heritage Fair and the Spelling Bee, we took advantage of CAT (Canadian Acheivement Tests) offered by the group, and for the fourth year in a row took in the groups annual Track and Field day. It made for a busy end to our year, but I feel like this is the richest year yet, and I'm so enjoying getting to know the families that are a part of this larger group.

Another thing my oldest son did all on his own was take part in a computer coding competition for kids.  He had taken a course at our local library and LOVED it, so when the competition was announced I knew he'd be interested.  Kids had to submit their projects for approval, and when we got the email from the directors at first I hesitated to open it - what if he didn't make it?  Turns out my fears were unfounded because he did, indeed, manage to qualify.  It was open to students all across the province, and he was delighted to take part.  He submitted the application and created the project 100% on his own, and I was so happy for him. It was a great experience.

Besides group events we also had a busy calendar keeping up with music and other extra curriculars on a weekly basis. As in previous years the kids were all in piano lessons. We had the sweetest teacher who retired this year, and we're all going miss her so much. Piano lessons have been so great for the kids, and they are really picking it up quickly. 

They have also continued with scouting, and this year my oldest daughter joined her three big brothers in the program.  I can't say enough good things about this, it really had been so great for our kids and they really enjoy it and learn a lot. The older boys did camping this year for the first time, and while it was a lot for this Mama to get used to, they were over the moon about it.

All but my youngest also did ballet this year, which has proven to be an interesting experience.  Last summer at my daughter's recital my second oldest son said to me, starry eyed, "I want to do ballet next year!"  When you're a boy in ballet you really are a superstar, since there are not a lot of boys there isn't much competition for male lead parts.  He had his younger brother talked into it as well, which worked good because they were in the same age group.  However having three children instead of one in ballet meant that I had to wait around the studio for an hour and a half, since their classes were staggered.  I ended up enrolling my youngest (and wildest!) son in the beginner class at the same time as his sister, so I didn't have to sit with him in the waiting room the entire time!  And after a couple of weeks hearing about how much his younger brothers enjoyed it, my oldest decided he'd like to give it a try as well.  I had told each of them that if they started, they had to stick with it until the end of the year and they were all game.  Not long into it however, they began to lose interest.  Joseph was the first, after the very first week in fact because he was the only boy in his class, which was quite intimidating (and ten-year-old girls who've been in lessons together since Kindergarden aren't exactly the easiest group of people for one lone boy to make friends with).  I felt for him immediately, but he made a promise and I wanted him to honour that even when it wasn't easy - and boy did he ever surprise me.  He was never thrilled about it, but he went week after week without complaining.  At Halloween he made ballet Pokémon cards to hand out to his class, which was pretty cool.  And at the end of the year when the teacher gave him the choice between sitting out the recital or having a special part made for him, he chose to take part.  Jeff and I along with his teacher gave him the freedom to walk away (his teacher said performing wasn't for everyone, and it was okay if he didn't want to) but he stepped up and saw it through, and I am so proud of him.  In the middle of winter it was so tempting for me to just pull all of the older boys, which would have cut my ballet time in half and saved us their tuition fees, but I knew I couldn't expect them to keep their commitments when it got hard if I wasn't willing to do the same.  And now that it's over, I'm so grateful that we did it.  The recital was a grand affair that ended the year on a positive note, instead of just stopping mid-year and having nothing to show for their efforts.  Two of them even said they wanted to do it next year (we're not, too much of a time and financial commitment) - but it just goes to show how finishing on a positive note can really change our experience.  And it's probably the only time I will ever see all of them on stage together in the same production.  It was so worth all the time and energy we put into it.
The other thing my two oldest boys took part in this year was the public school district String program.  I took violin all through elementary and middle school, and it was like a step back into the past to see my oldest boys pick up this great instrument.  They even have the same teachers and the same location that I went to more than 25 years ago.  The beginner program started in January and I am amazed at what the teachers were able to accomplish with all their students by their end of year concert.  All families have their niche I think, and ours is definitely music.  It runs deep on both sides of the family, and I look forward to watching my children develop in musicianship as they grow.

And then of course, there was the birth of our baby. That blessed event we have been preparing for since the beginning of the school year.  In the Spring I re-evaluated the material we had left, and adjusted their daily workload so that we could be finished by the beginning of June in case the baby came early.  I knew that whenever baby arrived I wanted to stop school, and I wanted to be sure there was nothing left unfinished.  The kids really picked up the slack, and between the extra school work and all the end of year activities that seem to take us by surprise every single year (not to mention standardized testing I did this year for the first time, which ended up being way more time consuming than I anticipated) they all wrapped up just in time for David's one-week-early arrival.  For the first time ever I was on top of their marking, so when Jeff came home at the end of the week he was actually able to sit with each of the kids and go over their grades for the year.  He was pleasantly surprised at their progress, and I was happy to find the CAT test results confirmed the marks I had for them (I never know as a Mom if I'm doing a good job as their teacher, so it was nice to see they're all well on track with the national objectives).  Jeff planned an amazing end of year party complete with treats, a super-cool grading present and a movie, and after a fantastic evening of celebration we officially declared the 2014-15 school year a wrap.

This year had definitely been one for the books.  It's been our busiest yet since it's the first year we haven't had a little baby, and we accomplished so much!  I know that there will be so many changes next year and honestly look forward to slowing down a bit, but I can't help but be grateful for all the fullness that 2014-15 brought to us, and all the ways the kids grew and rose to the occasion time after time. Four years under my belt and I'm still loving this journey - I love being with my kids, watching them learn and grow, and become the people God intends them to be right before my eyes.  This is a truly blessed life, and I'm so thankful God has chosen me to walk with all of these little people.

And now, bring on the summer!

1 comment :

  1. The beauty of this post and the way you live your life brings tears to my eyes..